What You Need to Know From the PPAI Technology Summit
Last week, I attended the 5th annual PPAI Technology Summit with more than 100 industry colleagues to network and be inspired. The conference is geared toward technology leaders in the industry, but there were many topics covered useful to each of you.
It's no surprise security was a big topic here, especially with all the email breaches that have impacted our industry this year. One speaker was a former FBI agent who stressed the importance of two-factor authentication. You may already use two-factor authentication at your bank by entering a password and having some sort of text message or other “factor” to prove you are who you say you are. I personally use two-factor authentication for several sensitive services, and have been investigating it for expanded use. I suspect in the next 12 to 24 months two-factor authentication will become far more commonplace. At a minimum, be sure your most sensitive accounts (email, banks, etc.) are secured with two-factor authentication.
IT leaders are not known for dazzling presentations, so it was refreshing to have a speaker who shared insights on making charts more powerful. You can read the speaker's book for most details, but the takeaway was to tell a story with charts rather than just show charts. Stop using all the fancy Excel features to make the charts look different and focus on what you want people to know, and ensure the visualization does a great job at telling the story.
One story he told was how he decided to show a graph that demonstrated the cost of beer at different baseball stadiums. He first had to find the right measure (cost per ounce, brand, etc.) to make the point most clear. He settled on the cost per case of beer, and the graph showed how a case locally is about $20, and the cost per case at various ballparks. The visualization made me never want to buy beer at a stadium again. (Hey, I’m gluten free, so I have no choice any longer.)
A lot of discussion around the importance of industry integrations. It was clear from the meetings that Promostandards continues to gain momentum, but it was also clear that SAGE has a lot to offer for distributors and suppliers for integrations. Most felt it was important to adopt both SAGE and Promostandards integrations for suppliers. Whatever path is chosen, industry integrations are quickly becoming the cost of doing business. Having order status delivered electronically into your systems is the starting point and adds immediate value, but there are many other options that are actively adding value to many.
Most of my readers don’t know about the General Protection Data Regulation, but for those of us who need to worry about it (largely anyone doing any business in the EU), Mike Wilkos of Vantage Apparel provided incredible and very clear insights on GDPR. He sure made me feel better.
No technology summit would be complete without discussion on e-commerce, and there was plenty to discuss. While nothing “new” surfaced, it was clear e-commerce continues to grow in importance to this industry, and we all must be embracing it.
The Power of Relationships
There was nothing more valuable than the networking and discussions between technology leaders. The value of information shared during roundtable discussions, networking breaks, meals and over drinks was incalculable. IT people may not be perceived as great networkers but put a group of talented IT leaders together and they are as good at networking as any sales group. The type of information shared wasn’t any significant secret, but instead sharing specific approaches to technological challenges.
I’ve intentionally oversimplified the summary of the PPAI Technology Summit since recapping 2 powerful days in any blog post is impossible especially given the broad audience of this blog. Many of the sessions were recorded by PPAI and will eventually be available online so look for the opportunity to listen in on the ones that matter to you. If you have technical staff, mark your calendar for August 2019 to ensure you don’t miss out on critical technology leadership opportunities.